God has been speaking to me a lot in this past week. And the message has been a consistent one. I know there are some who would say that we find what we're looking for when we feel that God is talking to us, to the continuity of the message resounded clearly, day after day, and it was culminated today with the vision. His words..."don't fear" and "have faith".
I know from experience that it is easier to say that I have faith and that I'm not afraid than it is to actually live it. Three years in prison will test any man's faith. And no matter how "minimum" the security is at a prison, they are still not safe places. There is a reason to be afraid in that dark place. But when you have received a promise from God, and you believe that promise...and God fulfills that promise, faith is strengthened. That's where I am.
Through devotional after devotional this past week...through messages on the radio and in church...through the words of song and article, God has told me not to be afraid. He is in control of all things. "Trust me", He says. "Remember", He reminds me. "Have faith", He challenges me. And then in His love, He sends me a vision to reinforce His promise to me.
As a former biology teacher, I know a little bit about spiders...and other creepy/crawly things. Unlike many people, spiders don't bother me. In fact, I had a pet tarantula spider for more than five years that I kept in my classroom. At times, I would take the big, hairy creature and allow him to walk up my arm and across my back and back down my other arm. It got quite a reaction out of the kids as they watched this spider that invokes fear in so many simply walk on my bare, susceptible skin. They would also watch in amazement as Gladys (the spider) would catch crickets that I had placed in her cage and paralyze them with her venom and then "tie" the cricket up with her silk. (Every time I watch "Lord of the Rings - Return of the King" and watch the giant spider wrap up Frodo with her silk threads, it reminds me of Gladys and the crickets).
Different kinds of spiders use there silk in different ways. Some, like Gladys, simply tie their prey up with the silk. Others, like Charlotte (from "Charlotte's Web") spin intricate webs that unwary creatures fly or fall into. But other spiders use a single of strand of their silk (called a gossamer) to float from place to place. Some spiders have been know to travel more than 50 miles this way. But the silk of all spiders have one thing in common...it is incredibly strong. In fact, it is stronger than steel itself.
The picture God gave me was of that spider, hanging onto their single strand of silk, floating on the wind. It doesn't matter where the wind takes the gossamer...and its passenger the spider. What is critical is that the spider hangs on to the thread. For me, the thread is the promise...the faith, that I have in God that I can trust Him through difficult times. And it is stronger than any problem that I might face.
There is a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. The business that I work for is on the brink of collapse...looking to reorganize through bankruptcy. I really don't know right now whether I will have a job next week...or even tomorrow. And in an economy with literally hundreds of thousands out of work, the probability of a convicted felon easily getting a job is not high. But, I'm not anxious. I'm not fearful. In truth...I'm prepared. Not financially, but spiritually and emotionally for whatever happens.
God has spent considerable time leading me through the wilderness and strengthening me every step of the way. He has allowed me to fail and He has lifted me up when I've fallen. He has never asked me to be perfect...because He knows that I can't be. He's never asked me to give more than I'm capable of giving Him...because He accepts all that I give Him from my heart. He only asks one thing from me...to continue to hang onto that thread of faith that He has given me. Like the spider, it's enough to take me where ever the wind of the Holy Spirit carries it.